tv Tavis Smiley WHUT May 3, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
season on the offices. he is headlining bluegrass with one of his comedy heroes, steve martin. coming up right now. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it is the cornerstone we all know. it is not just a street or boulevard but a place where walmart stands together to make everyday better. >> and by contributions from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: please welcome ed helms to the program. he has gone on to tremendous
success with both hanover films. those movies have sold more than a billion dollars which has probably not come as a shock. he is also the host of a music festival called bluegrass situation running thursday through sunday if you are in town this week. this month is also wrapping up the eighth season of the office. >> morning. somebody left in such a hurry this morning that she forgot these. the only thing more delicious is your feet is the feast that i am going to prepare for everyone. >> if you are going to hang out for a while -- >> what is this. >> he wants visitors to sign an. >> is this roberts attempt to
embarrass me? >> if we make an exception for you, we have to make an exception for the water guide, and where does it end? >> why is it that when other people spend time at the office, they are rewarded and when i do it, i am told it is a little much? is it because i am not an employee any more? because that is what it feels like. tavis: there was conversation that it would not survive without steve carell. >> we did it and made a show. [laughter] was obviouslyure a loss, but an opportunity for everybody. everyone was excited, we wanted to move on and see what we can do.
tavis: nisei it was an opportunity, what does that mean? >> there is a void of energy, and a very literal void in the sense that his character drove most of the episodes. when he left, there was a sense of his job as manager of the under mifflin became open. which my character stepped into, and a narrative question ofhat do you build of the show around? we tried a few different things this season and had a lot of fun. tavis: you came on to the show in the second season? >> season 3. i joined as a guest star, and
eight-episode arc, and then the story line that i was brought in to be a part of was with jim halpert going to connecticut for a stretch. became a little more involved, and in conversations started, maybe i can be a series regular, that is what happened. that is the coolest. [laughter] i was on the daily show for almost five years and when i left to do this on the office, it was only two months of work. and the daily show was like, i don't know if we can wait for you, we will have to fill your spot. it was very much a leap of faith and i just have to get out there and change the way that i am perceived. right now i am just a news guy.
i want to show people i can act and be ridiculous. the office gave me that opportunity and they gave me a bigger opportunity to join. tavis: i want to have a conversation about satire in just a moment, i just made my first appearance on colbert the other night. i have been asked to do both social -- shows. i turned them down. >> you did a smart thing. tavis: i'm not sure if i did the right thing, but we had a lot of fun with it. you get this opportunity at the office and the guys saying that we are not sure we can hold your spot indefinitely, how does one make the decision to go to something that you know is temporary. it is eight episodes. you took a leap of faith.
>> i am very stupid. i am not a smart man and i don't make smart choices. the truth is, after four and a half years on the daily show, i felt like i needed to do something different at that point. there was not much they would offer me except for more screen time that i have not already done on the show. after 4.5 years, i was starting to think, what is next? what do i want to do? i wanted to do narrative television and leads, i felt like i had to make a strong choice to change how i was perceived.
no one knew i was anything other than a snarky use your -- news jerk, a fake news guy. the decision really wasn't that complicated. i was a fan of the office, and steve carell, we were acquaintances. i was impressed with what he was doing and how the show looked, i felt like i could fit in. it was a scary choice, but it was also a no-brainer. tavis: this could be said of any character that one place over time, both of these characters that you played on the daily show at the office could lead to typecasting.
i am trying to juxtaposed you not wanting to be typecast on the daily show. >> any actor that is desperately trying to avoid typecasting is actually avoiding reality. we are all typecast in whatever type that we are. if you can find your pigeonhole and celebrate it, you are actually doing something savvy from a business standpoint. i do feel like i have a lot to offer that people haven't seen yet, i have a broader scale said. i am excited to share that. tavis: is very serious or dramatic side? >> yes. i just did a movie with jason siegel, "jeff who lives at
home." i wouldn't call it a drama, but we had some serious stuff in there. down the road, i am open-minded to that sort of thing. to answer your question, i am not afraid of typecasting. i don't want to do the same guy in everything, but that distinction between the daily show at the office was not like a similar guide, is he something other than a fake newscaster? can he do something other than this satire? it was that verse is acting. -- versus acting. tavis: i assume no regrets about the choice to leave. >> no. it has been -- obviously, it opened a tremendous opportunities toda me.
the office caught todd phillips, director of the hanover and i love the office. the staff, it is a really wonderful thing to be part of. i was telling somebody this weekend that my character on the office is one of my proudest achievements as an entertainer. no matter what i do down the road, i will look back at cherished this time. because -- i don't know. andy bernard makes me laugh. i hope that doesn't make me sound and narcissistic. when we are shooting a scene, it
is fun. tavis: if it makes you narcissistic, then we all are narcissistic because andy makes all of us laugh. carell used to do it. have they told you there will be another season? >> they have not told us officially, but i think that we are sort of on that path. whether or not a tv series is picked up for another season is, in some ways, a technicality. i have every reason to believe that. tavis: the office is funny, and i sense that we watch it for more than just laughs.
>> at the office is very important to us. we are changing culture. we are changing stereotypes. and we are having an impact. [laughter] that is why i get a weekly call from barack obama just to check again and make sure that we are taking our responsibilities seriously as a 30 minute comedy show on nbc. [laughter] i appreciate the question because my own feeling is that we tap into something awkward and a little bit on pleasant in people's daily lives and retains and the frustrations that we have at our jobs. it is really nice to watch other
people squirm and laugh at them in a fictional context. if you do that in real life, you are kind of a sicko. i think that is what people respond to. tavis: the satire reference a moment ago, i was honored that in the past, the daily show had invited me to come on a number of times and i respectfully past. i enjoy their work and i think they are funny and they do something important to the culture to make us see the dysfunction in the body politics. i just didn't think it worked for me, i was scared to do it. >> because you are an intelligent man and you know that they -- used to be we -- are very manipulative and have
fun with our targets. it is not a fair playing field. that is probably what you'll understand better than most people. were you invited to chat with john stewart or wto be in a field piece? think a'm not sure, i chat with jon. >> jon is a brilliant guy and a respectable comedienne, and he is a genuinely intellectually curious person. he is respectful to his energy -- enemy subjects. i think he is one of the greatest out there. but the field pieces that i did, those i can't in good conscience encourage anyone to ever agree to.
i apologize to my buddies at work at the daily ow. it is an inherently manipulative process, and people agree to be in the segments thinking that they get it. that they understand the way we operate and they will not be a victim to it. it is impossible for you to sit down for a field peas interview and win. because we leave with all the footage and we control the presentation. we control how the audience sees it. that is the fun, but it is also part of the manipulation. candidly, for me, there were parts of that aspect to it that never sat well with me. i was raised in a southern
family that is hospitable and gracious and my mom taught me always make me feel -- make people feel comfortable. i have to create tension and awkward as for real with real people. tavis: you were pretty good at this. >> i think i had to swallow that. colbert gave me the best advice when i first started on the show. day one, i was about to leave on my first field piece. i was nervous, excited. i was confident i could do the show. i watched it religiously. i asked stephen, you have any a device for me? >> hang your soul up in the
closet, you can get it later. you will have no need for it as long as you are working here. [laughter] that was pretty interesting advice, and maybe i did hang it up th ere. tavis: i will ask you a point about that in a second. i have been on a book tour with my friend. he had been on colbert a number of times, and he assured me that i would be ok. >> was he there with you? tavis: colbert never does to guests, but we were both sitting there. he is the nicest guy, i was very pleased to meet him. i thought it would make sense
for us to do it. playing the character he plays, it will allow us to get the points out. whether or not it made sense, i did it, i had a good time. i knew he was popular and people watch the show, and i've been on everything the last few weeks. the response from that of parents and has just been unbelievable. i raise that to ask what is it about our culture and our society that makes that kind of satire works so well? >> whee are so rife with hypocrisy, it is all around us. it is everywhere, it is not just even in the political forum, it is in the media coverage, the news coverage of politics. it is so abundantly hypocritical at times, and i think that just
from my experience on the daily show, that is what we always look for. it was never an ideological and go, how do we secure the right wing or whatever. it was always who is being hypocritical here? that is the very foundation of the colbert report. a character that is so ridiculously hypocritical and self involved, i think it is a release valve for fans that are fed up and angry with all of this hypocrisy around us, and vacancy a guy like john stuart mail it. like really surgically dissect why what barack obama said in
that situation was ludicrously hypocritical or what bill o'reilly said or whomever. it is also fun. there is a little bit of innocence to it because at the end of the day, it is just for laughs. it has content and fun to it. tavis: there is a great documentary that so many young people get their news from him. it is that a healthy thing? >> that would be as healthy as doing your research stopping at a candy store. i have heard that, and i always used to and not really believe it. tavis: they love this guy. everybody watches it. >> you don't get the show unless you have some contact, so i think people consumed things and
they watch that and they say, this is great. but are people actually getting their first bit of information? tavis: i hear your point. to get what he does, you have to have some sense of what the news is. >> that is my hope for society. tavis: that is funny. how did you become a bluegrass lovers? >> i grew up in atlanta and a spent summers at a camp in north carolina. and i think that it just -- bluegrass music has its origins -- by lamas from national, tennessee. it has origins in that north carolina kind of appalachian history.
it felt to me, at a young age, like an authentic thing, something that i connected to, and i don't know. i say if you like banjo music, it is a curse. you can't get away from it. i love the music and i love to play the music. there is something very soulful, there is a great spiritual history to it. and i like the community. i think a lot of the musicians, the way the music has progressed and inc. lots of other styles, is a vibrant and exciting thing. so mark flanagan, the proprietor of a great venue here in l.a. started this day, the bluegrass situation a couple years ago. we are in the third year, and it
has been a lot of fun. fans coming together, we started a web site called the blue grass situation. that is really just 3 source for any fan, anything old-time. been a lotw, it has of fun. >> steve martin was in this very chair and not too long ago. tavis: he is the greatest. >> he has been on ery year, he is a great supporter and a participant. and now we are all linked up with some charitable efforts as well. i am very excited about it. tavis: is there going to be another hannover project? >> yes. we are cranking up, probably shooting in the fall sometime.
tavis: or a busy guy. >> it is a priority. tavis: it isn't a priority, you live around the corner. it could have you on the program. that is the show for tonight, i will see you next time on pbs. think you for watching. keep the faith. >> i think that is astute. good call. pam easily the most creative and kind person i've worked with. >> this is gross. >> erin hannen, a winner if there ever was one. >> i like my new group. i like my old group. >> are we done? >> yes, no. the friday before columbus day
we will take a half day. >> you want to three and a half day for this day? and columbus committed genocide against a legion of native americans. >> i don't care. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley on pbs.org. tavis: i am tapis smiley, join me next time for a conversation with a pulitzer prize-winning novelist. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard, the cornerstone we all know. it is not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make everyday better. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.